Monthly Income Report: September 2014

September 2014 Income Report

Some articles on Desk to Dirtbag (and just what is a dirtbag, anyway?) contain affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!). Thank you for reading!


As I mentioned publicly back in June, my goal is to cover 100% of my average expenses here in Medellin by October 2014.

These monthly income reports are meant to hold me accountable to both myself and my readers. They offer a glimpse into the nature of making money through a blog and other online endeavors, as well as my efforts to cover my expenses while living overseas in the pursuit of becoming location independent.

On to this month’s report…

September 2014 Income Report

Each month I plan to report on what I did well as well as what I could stand to improve on.

What went well:

1. New Mailing List

I have FINALLY made the jump over to AWeber with my mailing list and have started an autoresponder series (which basically sends out a predetermined and prescheduled set of emails to new subscribers). I wanted to do this for awhile, but wasn’t sure (and I still don’t know) if the additional monthly expense ($19/month) will be worth it.

I still don’t have any products of my own to sell, so it might not pay off money-wise. But more important than the income derived from it, is being able to stay in closer touch with new subscribers, create more frequent contacts, and present some of the best of from D2D as well as original content just for the list.

Beyond that, it is really about helping people make their own daydreams into realities, to show that any old average joe like myself can do it. I will have to pay every month for my mailing list now, but I am making an okay amount of money on the site, so I feel it is justified to reinvest some of that into my website.

Part of the process of setting up the email list was also releasing my first free PDF guide, a short worksheet and guide titled the 7-Step Action Guide to Big Change. So many people have reached out to me asking for advice about living a similar sort of lifestyle that I just compiled my knowledge and experience with them into this free worksheet. I hope it will help people make big, scary jumps away from the 9-5.

If you’re interested, I’d love for you to join my NEW mailing list.

2. Amazon Affiliate Sales

I made the most I have ever made via Amazon Affiliate sales this month, nearly $300, which is obviously most excellent, but I did not make a single other affiliate sale for any of my other (better paying) affiliate links. Obviously the affiliate game is a bit tough to predict for any given time.

I thought my new resources page might increase the number of sales, but it obviously didn’t work last month. It is still a popular page that has dropped my bounce rates, increased the number of pages per visit and time on the site. So still definitely worthwhile.

3. Odds and Ends

I have been updating the blog with much more regularity this past month (articles every Monday and Wednesday and photos every Friday) which is great for building up the amount of content and topics that bring new people into the site via Google and other platforms.

I’m running my first ever giveaway on this site (I reached out to Aeropress and told them how many sales I’ve driven and asked if they’d do a giveaway) which has seen a pretty good number of entries. I actually paid $99 for the plugin to run the contest–all to giveaway a product that only costs $25 new, haha. But I can run future contests with the plugin at no additional cost.

I’ve also been in conversation with a few local tour companies about sponsoring a free or discounted trip here within Colombia (for a writeup and publicity on my site), and one has made a pretty legitimate offer for a multi day whale watching trip at 50% off. We will see what happens, but these conversations are directly attributable to me working my way through the Travel Blog Success course.

Detailed Income Breakdown

$101.82 – Airbnb Rental
$220 – Freelance writing
$329.91 – Affiliate sales and advertising from D2D
-$297.44 – Amazon Affiliate sales
-$31.74 – YouTube Videos
-$0.73 – Adsense ads.

TOTAL = $651.73
GOAL = $1,200 per month
54% of the way to my goal

(Psst... Wanna know the "secret" to traveling forever or being free to do what you love? Here's the answer, in five simple steps)

Thoughts and Impressions

My income decreased by 40% from August, but is 27% over July. I made considerably less money in September as compared to the success of August. This drop can be fully attributable to Airbnb taking a dive, while my income from my freelance work and earnings directly from my website remained about the same.

In August I was able to cover my rent 100% via Airbnb and basically live rent free, but what I didn’t know before is that September is one of the quietest months here in Medellin for tourists (and thus the precipitous drop in stays). My cleaning lady also works for a popular hostel and mentioned that it is extremely quiet there, as well, even resulting in them cutting back her hours.

I had one guest stay for a decent length of time, one cancellation, and a number of last minute inquiries that didn’t strike me as being too great for whatever reason (strange vibe, no reviews, odd questions, whatever), so I had the opportunity to say yes to a lot more people, but I didn’t bother.

October should pick up a little bit more, but we’ll see.

Things To Work On

In terms of actual income generated from the site it is always difficult to predict what sorts of numbers will come in. I have been getting about $10 per day from this website for the past couple months. More would obviously be welcome, but it has never been the primary goal of this website by any means.

I know that I am positioning myself for better returns and am actively working toward it with the creation of my new autoresponder email list (which should bring people back to the website more frequently) as well as actually working on building up backlinks from much larger and more influential sites (using this strategy from SPI).

I am continuing to work on the first draft text of my upcoming book about breaking away from the 9-5 and hitting the road. Initially I was just going to write up a small PDF ebook to increase sign ups to my email newsletter, but I kept writing and writing and all the sudden began to think that I could (and should?) make it into a Kindle book.

The idea is still pretty scary to me which sometimes causes me to stop working on it for a few days at a time.

It’s one thing (psychologically speaking) to write up a big blog post and have published 10’s of thousands of words here (for free), it is another to try and put together a comprehensive book about a subject and then sell it on Amazon.com (even if it is just a few dollars).

Deadline Reached and New Goal

So my deadline came and went. I set out to make $1,200 via my website, freelancing, and renting my place by October, but I failed to reach my goal. I came pretty darn close in August but things fell off considerably in September.

So was this whole exercise in goal setting a failure?

I think that is a resounding no. I’m still making more via freelancing and my website these past couple months than I was EVER making before. So the very act of telling myself (and others) that I was going to do it made me put the gears in motion to try and close the gap. I wasn’t quite able to do it, but I was able to cover a lot of ground.

This goal will evolve and the timeline will change.

I am planning to live in Medellin up through December. The goal will still be to cover 100% of my expenses up through that time, though I’d like to consciously set my income from just my website (not counting outside freelance work) to be $500 per month by December.

I have been making about $300 per month, so it will be a stretch goal for me to nearly double my income from this website in only two months, but we’ll see how I do

That’s all I got for you this month.

Questions, comments, and feedback are extremely welcome.

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September 2014 Income Report

Ryan

Author, Writer, and Head Honcho at Desk to Dirtbag
Ryan is an author, adventurer, perpetual wanderer, and self-proclaimed dirtbag (but that might not mean what you think). Originally from Seattle, he headed to Washington D.C. where he spent five years working for Congress before heeding the call of the wild. He set out living in his pickup truck to road trip across the American West. Since then he backpacked through Colombia, drove across all of Central America, and also wrote a best selling book: Big Travel, Small Budget. He just finished driving his old truck across all of South America -- support the adventures by visiting the D2D Shop. Follow the adventures on social media or read more about me.

Comments 7

  1. Hey Ryan, nice write up! Quick question – what made you go with kingsumo over something free (or cheaper) like Rafflecopter to run your contest? I didn’t enter, so I didn’t see what the entry form/page looked like compared to Rafflecopter.

    Keep hustlin’!
    Chris

    1. Post
      Author

      Hey Chris,

      I specifically wanted to run a viral-style contest (whereby entrants get more opportunities to win for each friend referred) as well as collect email addresses. My understanding with Rafflecopter is that neither is possible except with their more expensive monthly paid plan. I collected 100 email addresses with this contest 39 of which were people referred by others to the contest. A pretty good ratio. Plus I only paid once for KingSumo–which cost me less than what two months (maybe two contests) would cost me with Raffelcopter.

        1. Post
          Author
  2. Hey Ryan, thanks for being so transparent. I’m in the process of resurrecting my website and making another attempt at leaving the corporate world. You’re definitely an inspiration. Keep up the great work. Steve

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks Steve! I appreciate the words of encouragement. Just want to show the ups and downs of the journey as it is. Certainly isn’t easy to do, but nothing worthwhile really is… I hope your attempt this time around goes well! Let me know if I can help you with anything…

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